Hollywood has released DVDs for just about every television show that’s ever been on the air. “The Family Guy”, “Dukes of Hazzard”, “Good Times” and even “Sex in the City” which still comes on tv nearly every night.
What they’re not giving us are DVDs from two of my favorite sitcoms: “WKRP in Cincinnati ” and “The Wonder Years”.
These two shows were hits, had a loyal following and are certainly marketable. But apparently money is holding back any plans for putting these shows on DVD.
What do these shows have in common that prevents them from being released? Original hit songs from original artists.
WKRP was actually shot on videotape instead of film, the reason was video is cheaper, and if they didn’t spend a lot on film, they could afford to use the original rock and roll songs on the show. ASCAP had different licensing arrangements for taped shows than for filmed shows and this saved MTM productions about half the cost.
Unfortunately, the music licenses have expired so to release WKRP on DVD with those original songs would be very, very expensive. In fact, a few years ago when the shows were on Nick at Night, editors actually went in and replaced the hit songs with music from unknown artists.
(some of these songs were actually kind of funny themselves. In one episode when they originally played Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, the new song included the lyrics “hold my order terrible dresser.”)
So, it sucks for me, but FOX, which now owns the rights to WKRP have no plans to distribute the original episodes on DVD. You can buy the series on dvd on ebay, but those are actually episodes taped off of nick and then burned onto dvd.
I suppose it’s the same deal with “The Wonder Years” and while I keep looking for good news, there are no plans to put this show on dvd either. “The Wonder Years” also featured original music from the 1960’s and early 70s so I’m guessing it’s a licensing issue.
Interesting that some tv stations bought the rights to “WKRP in Cincinnati” years ago and those old copies actually include the original music. Also interesting is that stations that bought those rights can still air them. I’m not certain but I believe the Memphis CBS station owns “WKRP”, wonder if they’ve ever thought about finding a place for it in the lineup?